Chiropractor, musician remembered as generous
July 9, 2020
Dr. Robert Bruce Hanes, a chiropractor who practiced in Haines for about 10 years, died June 6 at his Old Haines Highway apartment. He was 61.
Hanes suffered from congestive heart disease and diabetes.
Friends and family members described him as highly intelligent and generous. "He loved Christmas and giving gifts. He was very generous with people. That went along with his work as a caregiver," said brother Douglas Hanes, of Philadelphia.
Hanes was born Aug. 15, 1958, to Dr. Robert Bruce Hanes Sr., a general practitioner who specialized in geriatric care, and wife Joan, a registered nurse. He grew up in Media, Pennsylvania, developing early interests in music and martial arts. He earned a fourth-degree black belt in karate and participated in tournaments as an adult.
As a musician, he taught himself piano and guitar. "He was a brilliant guy. I think he tested at 150 or 155 IQ," Douglas Hanes said. "He had the ability to learn things on his own. He could just figure stuff out."
Hanes attended the prestigious Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, and worked in Pennsylvania and New Jersey before coming to Alaska.
Dr. Jonathan Leibell worked 12-hour days with Hanes in Irvington, New Jersey, in the early 1990s. He said Hanes could perform "precise chiropractic adjustments at lightning speed" while entertaining staff with rhymes and jokes. Between appointments, he would practice karate moves.
Hanes sometimes treated more than 100 patients in a day, Leibell said.
Inspired by a chiropractor friend who moved to Anchorage, Hanes visited Southeast Alaska a few years later, including Skagway. Finding a demand, he set up shop in Haines. He returned to Pennsylvania around 2008, in part to care for his ailing mother.
While caring for his mother, he retired from chiropractic work, but maintained an interest in the healing arts, including studying and practicing shiatsu. Hanes returned to Haines about five years ago, but made frequent trips home.
"He was torn. He really missed Pennsylvania and he loved it here," said local artist Geri Marquardt, Hanes' partner and fiancée. The pair vacationed in New York City and Florida, enjoyed watching old TV shows, and shared a pet rabbit, Binky.
Marquardt said she hopes to create a permanent memorial for Hanes out of glass. "I enjoyed being near him. He was was so brilliant. He had a dry sense of humor that made people laugh, although his humor wasn't always politically correct. ... There were a lot of sides to Robbie. We added years to each other's lives."
Hanes is survived by three younger siblings: Douglas Hanes, of Philadelphia; Elizabeth Durning, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; and David Hanes of Hatboro, Pennsylvania. He was preceded in death by a disabled son, Jeremy Hanes.
Services are pending.